How to make the most of your heifer potential

04 February 2021
8 minutes

The Kaliber Calf Rearing Plan optimizes dairy calf growth and development through four stages: Start, Youth, Puberty, and Gestation phases. Key aspects include colostrum feeding, smooth diet transitions, and balancing protein and energy for proper rumen development. Contact De Heus for expert guidance on unlocking heifer potential.

Dairy calves are born with extremely high genetic potential, which every farmer has the opportunity to unlock through good nutrition and management during rearing.

The Kaliber Calf Rearing Plan uses extensive scientific research to help you reach that potential by maximising growth and carcass development. The plan involves four stages, each with its own specific recommendations.

The start phase (0-5 months)

There’s more to the start phase than feeding milk to young calves. The secret to a healthy start and high daily growth is to provide enough high-quality colostrum quickly and to use proper milk replacers before switching to solid food.

To maximise growth, a smooth transition from milk to solid feed is essential. A common mistake farmers make is to expose calves to multiple stress factors at once, such as weaning, moving and changing feed. This limits growth and delays the development process.

Another important aspect is how the starter feed tastes. For the best results, you should use high-quality pellets with an attractive smell and taste. Kaliber Starter is designed to ensure proper development of the rumen wall and papillae to give your calf the best possible start.

The youth phase (5-8 months)

The youth phase is the most important yet neglected rearing stage. This is when your calf has the greatest growth potential, but their carcass development will fall behind forever if you don’t get this period right.

The secret is to balance the crude protein and energy content of the ration. High-quality grass silage and corn silage are essential for proper rumen development. In the long run, this can help prevent fattening.

The puberty phase (8 months-pregnancy)

As a farmer, your main objective at this stage is to develop the heifer’s body frame to best prepare it for pregnancy. To prevent fattening, you need to lower the ration’s energy while including enough crude protein and high-quality roughage with limited corn silage and starch. To make sure your calf gets enough vitamins and minerals, you should use a Bestermine mineral mix.

The gestation phase (14-24 months)

When heifers are ready to be inseminated, the aim is to ensure further development without storing fat. The ration should have less crude protein and energy than during the puberty phase. Heifers at this age often have a high BSC if they were fattened earlier on, and this effect intensifies during pregnancy.

Good fitness depends on the feed’s ratio of energy and crude protein. Feeding heifers according the Kaliber nutritional guidelines will help you achieve well-developed heifers that reach their full potential. To find out more, contact one of our dairy specialists.

For more information, contact an advisor of the De Heus team.

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